Recent Images

Sydney Gas is prepared to flare methane gas test wells less then 300 meters from the Broke primary school!

Sydney Gas: "OK Let's negotiate! Where Would you like me to kick you?"

Members of HVPA protest against the waste of Singleton water by Sydney Gas (7 June, 2007 just before floods)

Click on the image of Todd Butler from Canada and listen to his Coalbed Methane Blues





















































































We have been saying NO to gas wells in residential areas of Broke and Bulga since June, 2006

Sydney Gas wants to drill for coal seam methane gas this close to the township of Broke in the Hunter Valley Click on the picture or here to learn more

News Headlines

Thursday, 18-December-2008. Gas Watch 58. Sydney Gas/AGL prepares to release over half a BILLION TONNES of CO2 into the atmosphere. Sydney Gas claims to have discovered 10,000 petajoules of extractable METHANE gas under the lush fields and vineyards of the Hunter Valley. This claim made for good reading at the time of the Sydney Gas Annual General Meeting ... ... but what SGL/AGL did not tell the community, is that when this METHANE gas is extracted and burnt it will, on our calculations, release into our already fragile atmosphere, nearly 528 million tonnes of CO2. (read more in Gas Watch 58. )


Saturday, 6-December-2008. Gas Watch 57. Sydney Gas has issued a newsletter for November, 2008. So, let's have a look at it and see what it tells us, if anything; and see if it is community consultation, or just more spin. Page 1/3. Sydney Gas supports local stock horse/Rural Fire Service. Here's Sydney Gas trying to buy its way into the community rather than earn the respect of the community by its actions and by consultation. In the old colonial days this was known as "giving glass beads to the natives". (read more in Gas Watch 57. )


Wednesday, 3-December-2008. Gas Watch 56. Pick the Sydney Gas lie..
1. "Sydney Gas has nothing to report. We are still awaiting results of our core hole testing." Sydney Gas announcement to the Broke Bulga Community Consultative Committee on 25th November, 2008
2. Sydney Gas has identified 25,000 petajoules of coal bed methane gas valued at about $10bn in the Hunter. Sydney Gas press release in time for its Annual General Meeting on 28th November. (read more in Gas Watch 56. )


Friday, 11-November-2008. Gas Watch 55. SYDNEY GAS REMOVES THE WORD "METHANE" FROM ITS WEBSITE. A crawl through the Sydney Gas website will reveal that Sydney Gas has removed any reference to "methane". No longer do they call this toxic gas "methane". Of course this is out of step with other methane gas miners around the world. Typical of the Sydney Gas spin doctors. AND WHY WOULD THEY DO THAT ?? (read more in Gas Watch 55. ) And they still won't agree to an Environmental Assessment of their immediate proposals.


Friday, 11-November-2008. Gas Watch 54. SYDNEY GAS RECKONS IT'S "CLEANER & GREENER" -- NONSENSE! Sydney Gas is promoting Methane gas as an energy source which is "cleaner and greener" than burning coal. Nonsense. It would be so if it actually REPLACED BURNING COAL. Methane Gas is just another fossil fuel to contribute to global warming. Sustainable "clean and green" power comes from solar, from wind, from tides, from waves, from hot rocks. It does not come from yet another fossil fuel being released. (read more in Gas Watch 54. )


Wednesday 22-October-2008. New Round of SGL/AGL Seismic Survey . According to an advertisement in Hunter Valley News Sydney Gas and AGL Gas Development are preparing for a new round of seismic exploration for the coal seam methane on their exploration leases in the Hunter Valley. This activity will cover a large area ranging from Singleton to Wybong. In our area this will include parts of the Putty Road near Mt.Thorley (more).


Friday, 17-October-2008. Gas Watch 53. SYDNEY GAS PRESENTS ITS OWN: Reasons why it can't be trusted. Sydney Gas issued a Paynes Crossing and Wollombi Core Hole Update on 10th October, 2008 on their website. In relation to the core hole it is to drill in Wollombi, Sydney Gas says: "Sydney Gas will only drill ONE four-inch core hole in the Wollombi area. One core hole is generally enough to provide the geological information required". So things are different at Broke are they? Sydney Gas has told the Broke community the exact opposite, that it intends to drill about 9 core holes and about 9 test wells ... (read more in Gas Watch 53. )


Monday, 12-October-2008. Gas Watch 52. SYDNEY GAS PRESENTS:"Some actions and answers": On its website, this controversial player in the release of METHANE gas from coal seams has placed on its website, finally, "Some actions and answers", a copy of a presentation made to the last meeting of the Community Consultative Committee. Have a look at the "actions and answers" . We thought we might run through a few of them for you: read Gas Watch 52 .

Now something for your diary:


Saturday 8 Nov, 2008 6:30 pm for the famous HVPA Trivia Night at Broke Hall.

Click the poster to see the fine print details.



Friday, 26-September-2008. Gas Watch 51. SYDNEY GAS EXPLORATION "NEWS".Or just more SYDNEY GAS SPIN? Sydney Gas has just released its September, 2008 "News" sheet. It appears to be in response to our Gaswatch 50. Sydney Gas claims that it is visiting every householder within 1 kilometer of its proposed well. This means pretty much everyone in the Broke Village. Please read all this information so you are prepared when, or if, they knock on your door read Gas Watch 51 .

Sunday, 14-September-2008. Gas Watch 50. COAL SEAM METHANE GAS.
Coal Seam Methane Gas mining is fraught with danger, with proven risks of:

  • contamination of ground water affecting rivers, streams, brooks, waterways, wells and bores;
  • depletion of ground water;
  • contamination and destruction of vegetation from the saline and toxic water taken from the seams;
  • sterilisation of soil and death of vegetation from migrating and leaking gas.
  • escape of gas increasing global warming;
  • escape of gas risking explosion and suffocation;
  • migration of gas, risking sterilisation of soil and vegetation;
  • migration of gas, risking explosion;
  • increasing global warming by flaring and burning the gas;
  • large and noisy compressor installations;
  • explosion and leakage of methane into the atmosphere from leaks in pressurised gas pipes;
  • loss of amenity and lifestyle;
  • loss of house and land values;
  • loss of business;


Saturday, 13-September-2008. Gas Watch 49. DANGER OF EXPLOSIONS IN HOUSES. Sydney Gas warns that if there is methane gas seepage from the wells they are to drill right next to the village of Broke, then "vegetation directly above the leak would slowly and I mean over two years, start to deteriorate. This is how leaks are discovered." (General Manager, Sydney Gas). But there is more ....


Wednesday, 10-September-2008. Gas Watch 48. SYDNEY GAS REFUSES, AGAIN, TO AGREE TO A SIMPLE COMMUNITY REQUEST TO PROTECT COMMUNITY. We asked Sydney Gas to include a clause in their land Access Agreement which would compensate for injury and damage to other people which may occur as a result of Sydney Gas' activities on somebody else's land. ... Sydney Gas have boldly said in a response to HB GAG: "we will not be including a third party indemnity clause in our Access and Compensation Agreements".


Wednesday, 10-September-2008. Gas Watch 47. Sydney Gas claims: "SCHOOL KIDS ARE MORE DANGEROUS THAN METHANE GAS WELLS, BECAUSE KIDS FART !" In a recent Newcastle Herald article Sydney Gas attempts to minimalise the danger of explosion from its methane gas well sites adjacent to the vineyard village of Broke in the Hunter Valley, saying that "kids at the nearby school would leak more methane gas from their back passages than would leak from this well". We are not amused: read Gas Watch 47.

Tuesday 9-September-2008. Fears Qld gas project will destroy arable land. The ABC Radio program PM presented today an interview with representatives of Australian Petroleum Production and Exploration Association and, more importantly, with the powerful Queensland farmers and graziers lobby group AgForce (see items 673, 674) They are not happy about the treatment that the farmers receive from the gas companies and the state government. They are not happy about the loss of good agricultural land and destruction of water resources. It is hard to believe, but apparently the waste water from the coal seam methane wells is evaporated in ponds and the resulting salt buried in one and half meter of clay on site! (read the transcript or listen to the program here).


Friday, 5-September-2008. Gas Watch 46. SYDNEY GAS FAILS THE COMMUNITY AGAIN.. Sydney Gas have been asked to prove to the community that it is fair dinkum when it says that "we know categorically that a production plant will not be located on the land we have recently purchased in Broke". We have asked them to place a covenant on the land, that is a legal notice filed with the Lands Department, which would ensure that no current or future owner of that parcel of land could build a gas production plant, or the like, on that land, ever. Sydney Gas has refused to place this restriction on their land. What does this tell you?


Monday, 1-September-2008. Gas Watch 45. Drilling in Gloucester threatened neighborhood. Underground water in Broke at serious risk of contamination. "Within two months the tests were halted after methane gas erupted from a number of water boreholes in the area."


Thursday, 21-August-2008. Gas Watch 44. ON 20th AUGUST, SYDNEY GAS WENT THROUGH THE MOTIONS OF COMMUNITY CONSULTATION - BUT THEY DIDN'T CONSULT, AND NEVER HAVE, THEY JUST LECTURED, BULLIED AND IGNORED. Here is some background of the "independent" moderator (courtesy of our friends from Wollombi). Here is Mark Harper's presentation as reported on the SGL website. Sorry, no discussion with the residents, just Mark Harper. And here is what WE think about this "consultation" read Gas Watch 44.


Wednesday, 20-August-2008. Gas Watch 43. SYDNEY GAS SIMPLY DOESN'T CARE. Controversial methane gas explorer, Sydney Gas, has declared that it will drill on land it has bought right next to the school of the vineyard village of Broke.


Tuesday, 12-August-2008. Gas Watch 42. THE COMMUNITY MUST RESIST THIS ASSAULT TO SAVE BROKE ! Controversial coal seam methane gas mining Company, Sydney Gas, buys land in Broke...


Friday, 8-August-2008. Gas Watch 40 and 41: BROKE BORE WATER AT RISK. SYDNEY GAS AGREES TO MEET WITH COMMUNITY ON 21st AUGUST, 2008 AT 7 pm AT NIGHTINGALE WINES. THE COMMUNITY MUST RESIST - BE THERE. HELP SAVE BROKE ! As advised in Gas Watch 40, Sydney Gas has bought land in Broke adjacent to the residential area of the village. It is the land where Sydney Gas drilled an exploration well in about 2004. It is land under which there are aquifers and water tables, which support our bores. It is land where drilling infrastructure, where gas extraction, methane seepage, and possible flaring, can affect the lives of everyone living in the Broke Village. It is land where the drilling of exploration wells can ruin our bore water.  ( read Gas Watch 40, Gas Watch 41 as PDF).

Wednesday, 30-July-2008. Gas Watch 39: QUESTION PUT TO HVPA: IS THERE A FUND TO COMPENSATE FOR LOSSES CAUSED BY DRILLING THROUGH AQUIFERS & WATER TABLES? In anticipation of any damage being caused by Coal Seam Gas exploration, the Government has required Sydney Gas to provide security in the amount of $35,000 in respect of PEL 4 and $199,500 in respect of PEL 267. PEL 267 is the PEL which covers the vast majority of the Broke and Bulga area.
We assume that the difference in amount of the security required represents the difference in risk, ie, that the risk of damage in our area is greater than the risks in PEL 4. This is a question we have recently posed to the Department and we are awaiting an answer.... ( read more in Gas Watch 39 as PDF ).


Wednesday, 30-July-2008. Gas Watch 38: THERE IS ALWAYS A RISK. Sydney Gas distributed their Gas Exploration News, July 2008 edition last week - all green, nice, cuddly and not a word about the production stage of their project. After all, the goal is to put hundreds of gas wells into our valley! Here is HVPA "de-construction" of this "news" ( read Gas Watch 38 as PDF ).


     Notice of Annual General Meeting

Notice is hereby given of the first Annual General Meeting of the Hunter Bulga Gas Action Group to  be held at the Broke Village Hall, Broke at 5 pm on Thursday 31 July, 2008.

Elizabeth Johnstone


Shell Faces Opposition to Canada Methane Operations. Quote: " Municipal councils in the British Columbia towns of Smithers and Prince Rupert have passed a resolution calling for an immediate halt to coalbed methane exploration in the region for environmental reasons, the Toronto-based newspaper cited Smithers Mayor Jim Davidson as saying. The resolution calls for Shell to immediately suspend exploration and enter into a ``comprehensive consultation'' with local residents until there is ``compelling evidence'' the region's rivers won't be affected ... " EndQuote . (Bloomberg news services, July 9, 2008)


Wednesday, 16-July-2008. Gas Watch 37: SECOND MEETING BETWEEN SYDNEY GAS AND WOLLOMBI COMMUNITY. Wollombi Valley Online recorded questions and answers at the second Wollombi/Sydney Gas meeting on 14th July, 2008. Once again SGL spokesman tried to concentrate on already well known issues of the coal gas exploration and distance themselves from the real purpose of their activity - i.e. turning the Wollombi valley into a gas field. We are not forgetting that a succesful commercial CBM production means hundreds of gas wells. Each well needs a dirt truck, a connection pipeline and that it produces huge quantities of salty water. It means several drilling rigs resident in the valley, noisse, increased heavy road trafic, dust, gas flares and no benefits whatsoever for the local residents ... Here is HVPA response ( read Gas Watch 37 as PDF ).


Sunday, 6-July-2008. Gas Watch 36: SYDNEY GAS EXPLORATION THREATENS WATER IN THE HUNTER. DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE AGREES. To extract coal seam methane gas it is necessary for Sydney Gas to extract the saline, contaminated water from the coal seams. The Department of the Environment and Climate Change says: "As groundwater is extracted it also depletes natural groundwater reserves and aquifers which can have consequences for other regional land uses which may experience a loss of net usable water. This is particularly relevant for farmers who rely on bore water. One solution can be to re-inject recovered water back into aquifers. This however can contaminate these groundwater aquifers." ( read Gas Watch 36 as PDF ).


Thursday, 3-July-2008. Gas Watch 35: LANDOWNERS LIABLE IF SYDNEY GAS POLLUTES. SGL access agreement leaves Landowners liable for potentially massive damages. In a case where heavily polluted water, or indeed gas, should escape onto or into a floodplain or watercourse, the damage to neighbouring or downstream properties could be CATASTROPHIC and the Landowner on whose property Sydney Gas was operating, would be completely exposed to a potentially massive damages claim, and maybe even prosecution... ( read Gas Watch 35 as PDF ).


Friday, 27-June-2008. SGL MEDIA RELEASE HUNTER EXPLORATION UPDATE. This is the latest news sheet issued by Sydney Gas. It includes information about Corehole Drilling and Seismic Data Acquisition in our valley ( read the document as HTML ,  download the original document as PDF).
It appears that Sydney Gas is of the view that it should relay its information on its Hunter Exploration by way of media release, ignoring the Community Consultative Committee. This Committee was established by the Minister to enable consultation, that is two way consultation, between the community and Sydney Gas.  Again Sydney Gas has failed the community. ( read the whole document here).


Thursday 26-June-2008. Obfuscation in the NSW Upper House. The following question and "answer" occurred in the Upper House yesterday. We have downloaded it from Hansard (read details here). Clearly the Minister's response was one designed to obfuscate. So we are no further advanced, other than at least the behavior of Sydney Gas has been brought to the attention of the Minister in the House as well as by way of our letter.


Thursday, 26-June-2008. HVPA response to letter of 16 June,2008 from Mr. Mark Harper, Acting CEO,Sydney Gas Operations Pty. Ltd. Our letter covers a range of issues that are mostly related to the SGL and local community relations. These include:

    Quote Start:" You have given lip-service to the CCC throughout the whole of your last two letters, yet you have not complied with a number of requirements set out in the Charter of the CCC in that, amongst other things:

      • You failed to inform the CCC that you had signed access and compensation agreements in respect of any further coreholes;
      • You failed to inform the CCC that you were in the process of preparing the REF in respect of the 5 coreholes;
      • You orchestrated an adjournment of the CCC until after you had provided a copy of the REF to Barry Smith and, more importantly until after approval;
      • You failed to provide the CCC with a copy of answers to our concerns relating to the REF until after approval." Quote En

( full text of the letter available here)


Thursday, 19-June-2008. Gas Watch 33: SYDNEY GAS FAILS THE COMMUNITY. Sydney Gas has failed in community consultation in relation to its recent corehole approvals. Sydney Gas has failed in its obligation to provide the Bulga Community Consultative Committee (CCC) with “factual and accurate information about the project”. Has failed to adequately demonstrate to the CCC that “the community’s views are being taken into account in the planning and operation of the project.” (read GasWatch 33 as HTML (download GasWatch 33 as PDF) .

Sunday, 8-June-2008. HVPA response to letter of 29 May,2008 from Andy Lukas, Chief Executive Officer, SGL. One of the main reasons we oppose gasfield development in our valley is that we do not want Sydney Gas to drill through the water tables and in the alluvials of the Wollombi Brook, because nobody can predict the consequences. Our water is too precious to allow outsiders to play with it! SGL is well aware of our position. Yet after almost a year of negotiations in and outside the Community Consultative Committee Sydney Gas just goes and brazenly prepares to drill two exploratory coreholes through the water tables of the Wollombi Brook at Wollombi and Paynes Crossing without community approval... (read what we think about it here)


Sunday, 8-June-2008. GasWatch 32: SYDNEY GAS CALLS WOLLOMBI COMMUNITY MEETING, BUT ONLY AFTER COREHOLES ARE APPROVED. On 7th June, Sydney Gas called a meeting of Wollombi residents, although the corehole had been approved on 27th May. Conveniently for Sydney Gas the meeting was called for the Saturday of a long weekend when tourism operators were at their busiest and when many members of the community had gone (see GasWatch 32).

Monday 2-June-2008. Sydney Gas Response to our letter of 6 June 2008. Mr. Mark Harper, Acting Chief Executive Officer, provides a detail response to our letter  (see the full text here). This communication also includes a copy of the current Access and Compensation Agreement template  (see the document here). A picture of a Bulga Coal gaswell , which relates to the discussion in the text is  ( here).

Monday, 2-June-2008. SGL Response to GasWatch 31: We have received an official response from Andy Lukas (Chief Executive Officer) to our concerns outlined in the Gaswatch 31. Basically the response is that the local residents have nothing to worry about from the few gas exploration bore holes. SGL is doing everything to communicate with the local residents, to protect the environment and more ... (read the SGL response as a webpage here) or (download the original PDF file)

Unfortunately, the experience from overseas tells us a different story. For example, residents of the New Mexico feel that "Live in a gasfield ... and you'll think you've gone to hell". Of course, the Coal Bed Methane (CBM) drilling technology originated in the USA, so they are about ten years ahead of us. Their environmental experiences are, therefore, very relevant to us.


Sunday 1-June-2008. Important Public Notice: Exploratory Gas Drilling In Wollombi and Paynes Crossing. The Wollombi Progress Association announced on their website that Sydney Gas organized a "Public Information" Meeting to be held this Saturday, 7 June 2008 at 2:00pm at the Wollombi Hall    (further details here) You might be also interested to read the document that announced the exploration activity to the residents.

Friday, 30-May-2008. GasWatch 31: FIVE more core holes approved - 2 through the Wollombi Brook alluvials - ignoring concerns of the community. During April this year Sydney Gas let us have a copy of the Review of Environmental Factors they had prepared for a further five core holes. Whilst the law, as it presently stands, doesn't provide for community input into the approvals process, nevertheless we studied the document, believed that it was lacking in a number of areas, and we put a number of questions and comments to Sydney Gas, and copied that to the approving government Department. These questions and comments are set out below. There was no response from Sydney Gas. There was no response from the Department. We were ignored. And then on 27th May we received an email from Frank Krstic, the General Counsel of Sydney Gas, advising that approval had been granted for each one of the 5 coreholes. What is the point of us even being supplied with a copy of the REF prior to approval if nobody is going take any notice of our concerns? (read about our concerns as listed in GasWatch 31).

Thursday, 7-February-2008. GasWatch 30: Visit by Community Consultative Committee to Sydney Gas' Camden operation. The Community Consultative Committee met at the Sydney Gas' extraction operation at Camden on 7th February. Again it was a constructive meeting. The Chairman of Sydney Gas, Dr. John Saunders, was positive in addressing the unique issues which arise in the Broke and Bulga areas of their Petroleum Exploration Lease area, chiefly the concerns relating to our closely settled rural area and how that would make gas exploration in the Broke and Bulga areas difficult for a gas explorer. (read all in GasWatch 30).

Monday, 21-January-2008. GasWatch 29: Sydney Gas - take over by AJ Lucas Group? So, Sydney Gas has announced that the AJ Lucas Group is to take 15% of Sydney Gas now, with some incentive ability to increase that holding later. Is this a take over of Sydney Gas? What will this do to the relations the community has been building with Sydney Gas and with the Chairman of the Board, Dr. John Saunders. Over the past few months Sydney Gas has given certain indications to the community which has given landholders confidence that the Broke and Bulga valleys will not be invaded by Coal Seam Methane Gas exploration and all the environmental disadvantages that go with it, including the risk to the Wollombi Brook and to all our underground and surface water. (read all in GasWatch 29).